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Hitachi Global Storage Technologies on Tuesday introduced its new series of solid-state drives that it calls the "world's most advanced" SSD family based on enterprise multi-level cell (eMLC) NAND flash memory. The company positions the new drives as inexpensive solid-state storage solution that meets the performance, capacity, endurance and reliability demands of today’s enterprise and cloud data center.

"The introduction of MLC-based SSDs, such as Hitachi GST's Ultrastar SSD400M, helps foster the market as it lowers SSD acquisition costs while still delivering the enterprise performance and reliability for which many IT managers desire in traditional enterprise storage and cloud computing environments," said Jeff Janukowicz, research manager for solid-state drives at IDC.

Hitachi GST's Ultrastar SSD400M are based on eMLC NAND flash memory made by Intel Corp. using 25nm process technology. The drives are available in 200GB and 400GB capacities with Serial Attached SCSI-6Gb/s (SAS-6Gb/s) interface and in 2.5" form-factor. Hitachi declares up to 495MB/s sequential (64KB) read speed and up to 385MB/s sequential (64KB) write speed for the new SSDs and up to 56K/24K sustained 4KB read/write IOPS [input/output operations per second]. Ultrastar SSD400M self-encrypting models are available.

Thanks to eMLC NAND flash combined with endurance-optimized controller technology, the Ultrastar SSD400M 400GB delivers write endurance with 7.3 petabytes (PB) lifetime random writes, or 10 full drive writes per day for five years,  which satisfies the endurance requirements of most enterprise applications, according to Hitachi. The 200GB version has write endurance of 3.7PB. The MLC SSD family is targeted to achieve a 0.44% annual failure rate (AFR) or two million hour mean-time-between-failure (MTBF).

"With this new MLC SSD offering, Hitachi now offers a full line of HDD and SLC- and MLC-based SSD storage solutions that support the entire enterprise ecosystem. I’m proud to say that our continued success in the enterprise and cloud segments comes from having the highest reliability in the industry, the right portfolio of products and a trusted, consultative relationship with our customers. This combination makes Hitachi one of the only HDD/SSD providers in the world with the experience, technology and products to help increase MLC and SLC SSD adoption in the enterprise market," said Mike Cordano, executive vice president of worldwide sales and marketing at Hitachi GST.

Traditionally enterprise-class solid-state drives were powered by single-level cell NAND flash memory which has higher reliability and supports considerably higher number of write cycles. However, SLC is substantially more expensive than MLC or eMLC memory. As a result, an emerging trend is to combine SLC and MLC SSDs in a tiered configuration in the same way one might tier SAS and SATA drives. For instance, MLC SSDs cost less, allow for higher storage density and are used primarily for read-intensive applications. On the other hand, SLC-based SSDs provides greater endurance and reliability for write-intensive applications, and both have a place in the Enterprise tier 0 storage hierarchy.

"Tier 0 enterprise applications are of increasing importance as more and more IT managers are redesigning their data centers for improved total cost of ownership, and to support advances in cloud computing, virtualization and thin provisioning. With an estimated volume CAGR of 57% and projected revenue CAGR of 39% from 2010-20151, enterprise SSDs offer a significant growth opportunity. Those that will be successful in capturing share will need to maintain strategic NAND technology relationships and supply, deliver consistent performance and reliability through advanced controller and firmware technology and reinforced with compelling storage management software, and maintain strong customer relationships," said Joseph Unsworth, research director of NAND Flash and SSD at Gartner.

Hitachi GST has already shipped and is currently qualifying its Ultrastar SSD400M drives with select OEMs. Broader qualification samples are now available with channel distribution scheduled September.

Hitachi GST is about to become a part of Western Digital.

Tags: Hitachi, Hitachi GST, SSD, NAND, Flash, MLC, eMLC, 25nm, Intel, Western Digital

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